There are many special things about an IRONMAN event. One of them is the amazing supporters who rally behind the athletes all day along the course. With only a few days to go until the Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship, you can already feel the excitement around the city – with the city being painted in IRONMAN colours.
The Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship course is characterised by pristine golden beaches, stunning coastal beauty and an electrifying urban run course. However, despite its beauty, the 226km still presents some real challenges to athletes.
The Standard Bank IRONMAN African Championship was selected third overall in Race Venue, second overall in Host City Experience and first overall in the Overall Swim, Overall Bike and Overall Run course in the Europe, Middle East and African races.
The hype which surrounds Nelson Mandela Bay annually during the IRONMAN weekend draws numerous athletes to the event. This year the event boasts 2029 entrants, of which 670 are international athletes. There are also 56 registered pro athletes so an exciting race can be expected. This race is massive for the city as 90% of the field is based outside the city.
All eyes with be on Ben Hoffman after a hatrick of wins. Last year, Hoffman completed the race in 7 hours 58 minutes and 40 seconds, improving on his 2016 victory, where he completed the race in 8 hours 12 minutes and 37 seconds, “I am looking forward to seeing what my diligent training has done to prepare me physically and mentally for the race” stated Hoffman.
One of the top contenders to upset Hoffman’s title defence is South African, Matt Trautman. Having been side-lined last season due to a career threatening catastrophe, he looks like a man on a mission. Trautman isn’t the only man of form with Josh Amberger, Cameron Wurf and Eneko Llanos to name but a few are all looking good for a podium finish.
The ladies race will be just as tough, if not tougher. It would take a very brave man to bet on a winner of this exciting field with Susie Cheetham, Linsey Corbin, Lucy Charles, Gurutze Frades, and Emma Pallant. Emma Pallant,who with her recent successes at the 2017 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships held in Chattanooga, coming in second place, seems like a hot favourite. “This will be my first full IRONMAN race though, last year I podiumed on 10 half distance races.” warns Pallant.